From the category archives:


Singapore, the New Team Player for the Art World

by Claudia Dias on June 14, 2010

During the unprecedented emergence of Asian economies the number of entrepreneurs with high net-worth who tend to invest large portions of their wealth into fine arts and other high-value collectibles has drastically increased over the past 10 years, and so has the demand for the management and storage of these new collections. Singapore, an established world banking center and a reputable location for wealth management, also often referred to as “the Switzerland of Asia,” seems most suitable as a location, since the country is highly trusted by business community for its safety and economical and political stability within the Asian region. The structural analogue of this opened at the beginning of 2010, when for the first time Singapore FreePort, a new Fort Knox opened its vault doors to customers, located right at the trading crossroads of the Middle East, India and China.


Singapore’s government agencies such as the EDB (Economic Development Board), the National Arts Council and the National Heritage Board have been instrumental in realizing projects of such scale, partially as shareholders, who ease the financial risks. For over 40 years the EDB has focused on still undeveloped but seminal economic branches and encourages their phased development. As a public agency it is able to create public-private partnerships with the next generation of entrepreneurs and to advance them with beneficial regulations. This is exactly what is happening with art market right now.

Thanks to the new Freeport and Singapore’s substantial subsidies, the ink is hardly dry on the promotional materials for Art Stage Singapore, the new art fair scheduled for January 2011. Lorenzo Rudolf, the former director of Art Basel, inventor of  Art Basel Miami Beach and co-creator of Shanghai Contemporary, chose Singapore as the location for his newest fair of international contemporary art. It will be staged in the soon to be completed Marina Bay Sands building, with its giant roof terraces 250 meters up in the sky; a building that is already an icon for skyscraper fans. According to Rudolf “Asia is on the way to become an important platform of the international art market” and Art Stage Singapore is supposedly the key opportunity for networking galleries, collectors and art institutions. The French Art 7 Design Pavilion for 2011 is also in talks. These two events would expand the spectrum of new art fairs to Design, Modern and Contemporary art.

The idea for the Singapore FreePort, the duty-free and tax-free depot, was a brainchild of founder Alain Vandenborre already in December 2004. Thanks to his partnership with Yves Bouvier, president of the Swiss Art shipping company Natural Le Coultre, the brainchild turned into a project. After one year of planning and 2 years of construction the first phase of the “Swiss wonder” has now opened. Insurance companies “with proper risk management favor safe keeping of assets in at least two different locations” and “the Swiss Freeports have also become quite overbooked over the years,” explains Alain Vandeborre, who holds an MA in Astrophysics and works now as serial-entrepreneur in Singapore.


Technologically equipped with the most advanced climate control and security systems, not only museums, National collections and auction houses have reserved strong rooms, but also international banks are entrusting their treasures under off-shore regulations to the Singapore FreePort at Changi airport. What accelerated the completion of the project was Christie’s signing up as an anchor client in April 2009; at one go 40% of the approx. 22,000 m2 capacity of Phase1 was leased for 30 years. The additional 25,000 m2 storage area of Phase2 shall be completed by the beginning of 2014.

It is not just about high value storage, but the entire fortress is an ecological and technological gem, which was designed by the Geneva architecture office 3MB3 in close collaboration with Swiss engineers, starting with its plant-covered facade conceived for climate-control purposes. Also the building contour brings to mind a jewel; the shape however is a product of the airport’s height constraints. To avoid any kind of water damage the cooling in the strong rooms is achieved simply by air circulation and the entire roof is going to be covered with the newest thin-film solar voltaics.

For the central courtyard Vandeborre and design collector Yves Bouvier commissioned Ron Arad with a monumental metal installation, of which the cell structure reminds one of a distorted space grid. Johanna Grawunder designed light installations to interlace the softer outdoor architecture with the rough windowless interior. During the daytime narrow stainless-steel panels reflect the sky, while at night they remind of darkened “windows” in front of the LED projected wall, which creates a “bioluminescent” effect for the plant façade. Grawunder transmutes the long corridors in the more exclusive areas of the vault facility with criss-crossed textures of LED and acrylic light into human and ecologically friendly passages.


Andrew Foster, COO of Christie’s Asia is confident: “The CFASS (Christie’s Fine Art Storage Facility) in London was a great success.” But with customers of the auction house frequently requesting additional storage possibilities in Asia, the Singapore FreePort project came in handy. “We are considering providing a secure storage area of an even larger share of the second Phase building.” Andrew Foster is not convinced that Singapore is going to turn into the art market hub for Asia like Hong Kong. He rather more expects the City State to play a central role for all art market supporting aspects.

Nevertheless, Singapore and the EDB are subsidizing the creation of an infrastructure for contemporary art by building innovative new museums and not a moment too soon: because 2011 the next wave of art fairs will hit Singapore.

This article was published in German in KUNSTZEITUNG May, 2010; Text and photographs by Claudia Dias, renderings are courtesy of Atelier d’Architecture 3BM3


Imaginary Lines From Out West

by Claudia Dias on March 28, 2010

WDM: …. but it is, that the real notion of an infinite space is perhaps one of the few thoughts that is worth thinking about more than once.*


In 1785 the US Congress passed the Land Ordinance for the creation of a national grid, to organize and distribute without dispute the Northwest territory. For this purpose Jefferson together with Hugh Willamson developed an American version of Roman centriation, a purely mathematical system that ignored settlements according to natural topography. He established a grid of 6 x 6 miles (36 sqare miles) townships, which then got subdivided into 1 mile square parcels. The surveying started along the Ohio River and westwards. Actually, if you fly across the country, you can still see the road alignments following the national grid “that have etched a pattern resembling a giant piece of graph paper onto most of the landscape west of Ohio.”(Elizabeth Barlow Rogers)

Looking at Walter De Maria’s sculptures and landscape works, I always wondered where his facination with the abitrary but exact meassure of one mile or kilometer might have its orign.  And the Land Ordinance could be an indirect source, since this abitrary grid often creates paradoxical interactions between access and landscape especially in the US.


“… ’68, I went to Europe; I saw my steel work in the Dokumenta. I realized it was good; it was perfect but that I didn’t want to make any more steel works in galleries or museums. It was really clear. So in October I filled (Heiner) Friedrich’s gallery (in Munich) with dirt, made this minimal flat horizontal earth sculpture in this gallery, then went to the Sahara in December, January of ’68, ’69, did the mile-long line, lost the photos and all that story, but realized that I was absolutely on the right track.”*

Sometime the same year WDM found time to make a Land Drawing, called Mile Long Drawing in the Mojave Desert. A straight one mile long white chark line crossing over one of the vast dry salt-lake beds, which over a few days got naturally “dismantled” with constant winds dissolving the edges and the lines defining the dimensional shape of a “tool”.

In 1977 he installed the permanent installation The Lightning Field, a one mile by one kilometer grid comprising of 400 reflective stainless steel poles, ca. 20 feet high creating elegant lighting rods. It hovers like an imaginary 1 kilometer / mile long horizon-line between sky and ground. Only a few people took the oportunity to go and experience the installation, which is an overnight excursion to Western New Mexico and where taking photographs is prohibited.


However, efficiency looks different. Not far away another grid directed toward the sky and looking for the invisible is the Very Large Array, which consists of 27 radio antennas arranged in a Y shape. The array is divided into three radii 120 degrees apart which define the size of a circle. In this case efficiency determines the layout. The idea is to take advantage of combining the information of all antennas and calculating the missing parts instead of covering a giant circular area with reflective parabolic dishes. It looks as nature is rather organized for circular then rectangular performances.

“The line in the invisible drawing is like the mirage line of a heat wave in the desert floor, I mean it’s something that’s there and it’s not there, and the idea of a yard square piece of paper is an idea, a close approximation of the whole field of vision in a desert. But partially I think it was just instinct, just saying that aesthetically we can’t do enough here in the city under this set of rituals and that the whole rules of the game have to be changed and that, if I go out and do this mile long piece, it’s going to be a more powerful experience than just experiencing these few perfect sculptures in the gallery.”*

In 1979 WDM returns to the city and installs the Broken Kilometer in the New York West Broadway space of the Dia Art Foundation, his answer of bringing this country’s vast landscape into the cramped place of the city. He displays a Kilometer not as a distance, but as a Quantity showing 500 perfectly equal 2 meter long modules lined up in 5 rows made of solid brass, reflective, in his words “in the color of light”*.

*Oral history interview with Walter De Maria, 1972 Oct. 4, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Image reference: VLA by NRAO; Walter De Maria; Walter De Maria, Mile Long Drawing, 1968; Google Satellite Image of Mojave Desert; Walter De Maria, Mile Long Drawing, 1968; The Whirlpool Galaxy M51, courtesy of NRAO/AUI and Juan M. Uson, NRAO; The Lightning Field, courtesy of Dia Art Foundation; VLA by NRAO; The Lighting Field  courtesy of Dia Art Foundation.


Justice to Judd

by Claudia Dias on February 26, 2010

“It takes a great deal of time and thought to install work carefully. This should not always be thrown away. Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again.” *


I never understood the whole myth around Donald Judd’s work, and probably  never will  (as long it is presented on boring white gallery walls or, in the case of his furniture, covered with stacks of paper and magazines) … if it had not been for his brief for the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum, which has been created around Donald Judd’s intention to preserve and present to the public permanent large-scale installations of a limited number of artists in 1986 (many of the works displayed are his own; other works are of artists from his collection).

This idea to find the right undisturbed location, the right neutral but adaptable structures to house these works and to adjust these structures to make the art live with its surrounding changed my preconceptions.
100 reflective milled aluminum objects of the same outer size (41″x51″x72″) but with interior permutations were installed in two former Artillery Sheds, from which Judd removed the garage doors and replaced them with a continuous row of quartered windows which now floods the space with light and changes the mood of the installation depending on light and weather conditions. Judd also doubled the heights of these two buildings, adding a vaulted roof on top of the orginal flat-roof. (100 untitled works in milled aluminum, 1982-1986)

The Dia Art Foundation had already spearheaded this idea in New York with Walter de Maria’s The New York Earth Room installed in 1977 and The Broken Kilometer installed in 1979. Both installations still remain as anchors within the ever changing urban landscapes and neighborhoods of Manhattan.


The Chinati Foundation is located on 340 acres of land on the site of former Fort D.A. Russell in Marfa, Texas. Construction and installation at the site began in 1979 with initial assistance from Dia in New York.

“The art and architecture of the past that we know is that which remains. The best is that which remains where it was painted, placed or built.  Most of the art of the past that could be moved was taken by conquerors. Almost all recent art is conquered as soon as it’s made, since it’s first shown for sale and once sold is exhibited as foreign in the alien museums. The public has no idea of art other than that it is something portable that can be bought. There is no constructive effort; there is no cooperative effort. This situation is primitive in relation to a few earlier and better times.” *

Roni Horn’s pair of two identical truncated solid copper cones that are 35 inches long, tapering from a diameter of 17 inches to 12 inches were placed by the artist together with Donald Judd. The pair is part of a 1988 suite consisting of four sets of paired, solid copper forms, each hand-lathed to duplicate mechanical identity. The entire suite is titled Things That Happen Again.


Looking at both components at the same time, the viewer sees in the element at the end of the space that part which is invisible to him of the near-by object, completing the set while scanning the room. The object, as one comes upon it, tapers away into space as it presses down onto the floor (through its shape and own weight). It is far more a repetition than an architectural work could ever be, using the mobility of the sculptural object to orient the body in such a way as to generalize the effect of the room itself.  At the same time there is an inherent instability within the space, centerless and sensible to the desire to move the objects out of balance.

“Art and architecture – all the arts – do not have to exist in isolation, as they do now. This fault is very much a key to the present society. Architecture is nearly gone, but it, art, all of the arts, in fact all parts of the society, have to be rejoined, and joined more than they have ever been. This would be democratic in a good sense, unlike the present increasing fragmentation into separate but equal categories, equal within the arts, but inferior to the powerful bureaucracies.” *

Knowing that these works are installed with such permanence at a remote location in Texas will allow me to walk more easily the aisles of the next mammoth Art Fair.

* All quotes are by Donald Judd, from the Chinati Foundation catalogue and Statement for the Chinati Foundation/La Fundacion Chinati by Donald Judd

Please refer for further information to the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas
Photographs are courtesy of the Chinati Foundation, Dia Foundation, and Essem.W


Walking the Lines of Nasreen Mohamedi

by Claudia Dias on February 4, 2010

A few weeks ago I came acrosss the fine-line drawings and b/w photographs of Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990). Infinite precision and sensibility in using multiple variations of lines, be it in thickness, distance and pressure these drawings of multiple horizons are simply magnetic.


Break the cycle of seeing
Magic and awareness arrives.*

During her lifetime Nasreen’s work did not get due recognition in India, according to Deepak Talawar, for her abstract modern works, influenced by European Constructivsm and Modernism were too non-Indian within the then Indian art scene. She devoted her work to the anonymous language of geometric clarity, where all is distance: “The drawings lift the body into space and give it a sense of its mathematical positioning,” writes Geeta Kapur in the Drawing Center’s catalog “Lines among Lines” from 2005.

Nasreen studied design in London and in Paris, traveled frequently to the deserts and beaches of Bahrain, Kihim and Kuwait, but lived and taught mainly in Baroda and later on in Bombay and New Delhi. “What seemed to attract her during these travels were not the monumental and the new, but the imperceptible cycles and imperfections of nature, the overlooked infrastructures and detritus of everyday life in the streets”. (Susette Min)


Alone among all Indian artists, she worked on small-format, strictly ruled drawings in ink, watercolor, and pencil on paper. She took many black and white photographs of seemingly random moments on her travels and daily life, but all were already composed with lines, be it street marking, yarns of a weaving stool or the waves of a dune landscape. She refused to exhibit the photographs and thought them inappropriate for the public eye, but she used them as a starting point for her fine-line drawings.

In the early 1960′s Nasreen started out with delicate tracery of grey-and orchre paintings, moved in the early 70′s to grid pencil drawings and graphic formalism and started in the early 80′s with drawings incorporating diagonals.

Her drawings are often compared with Agnes Martin’s works, however she only learned about the American artist late in her career. Personally, I find Nasreen’s work way more compelling, since they lack the doctrinarian, kind of religious undertone and tend to be more experimental, open and questioning.


Looking at the drawings is like taking an infinite break, and reveals the devotion, patience and depth of the artist behind the lines.
“For Mohamedi, life was not a matter of time, but of duration; for Mohamedi’s drawings engage with the thick activity of the world around her, they do not represent or render nature, or a particular aspect of the city, so much as they serve as a referent of time.” (Susette Min)

*From Nasreen’s Diary, July 17th1973, Baroda

Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes. – Reflections on Indian Modernism @ Kunsthalle Basel (February 7-April 4, 2010)

Please refer for catalogs and further information about Nasreen Mohamedi‘s works to Talwar Gallery , which represents the estate of the artist. Drawings and Photographs are by Nasreen Mohamedi, courtesy of Talwar Gallery.

Talwar Gallery 108 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Tel + 1 212 673 3096


Thorns For The Bailey House (CSH #21)

by Claudia Dias on July 18, 2009

Honestly, I think the garden of the Bailey House got forgotten by Pierre Koenig and his clients. Several pieces of Architectural Pottery were planted with sedum and the steel-framed reflective pools where decorated for the early photo shoots with additional rushes. This probably was because of the limited budget. Koenig’s sketches don’t indicate much more regarding the landscape.


Somehow I think that this became the week-spot of CSH #21; different from its successor, the Stahl House (CSH #22) with its spectacular view over LA, this house was built between a sloping neighborhood street and a steep dry mountain-side way up in the West Hollywood Hills. So the focus was kept on the house’s center-patio and its terraces. Over time bushes have overgrown some of the mountain slope and some grass had been planted for presentation purposes and to prevent further erosion. The last owner surrounded himself with a wall of bamboo, which cut the house off the neighborhood in the style of Beverly Hills and a cinder-block retention-wall along the street had been added.


Essentially the guiding principle for a new garden design was low-maintenace. What came to mind was a desert-like climate, you don’t think so much about that when you see the rainforest-like planted neighborhood streets. But succulents take to the dry grounds (oh surprise!) and the sculptural character of succulents complements the straight angled building shell. The fact that they absorb water during the rainy season and then store it means they can last longer during the dry season. This way irrigation can be kept to a minimum, a necessary consideration helped as we found out later that year to get through the ongoing California drought.

Inspired on the one hand by the wild, desert vegetation of the Joshua Tree Park with its randomly spread Joshua trees accompanied by creoste bushes, ocotillos and teddy-bear cacti; and on the other hand by the well-groomed urban succulent garden in San Marino at Huntington Botanical Gardens which looks more like a dense jungle of cacti and agave. We decided for a wide variety of succulents, planted in clusters, and rare Joshua trees from Texas, since the Californian Joshua tree is close to extinction and also is very difficult to transplant (it has to be replanted exactly at the same angle and orientation to the sun in which it grew).


The neighborhood association*, founded even before the house was completed in 1959, eventually set up rules to keep the community alive and open, preventing Wonderland Park Avenue from turning into a gated community. Needless to say, the moment that the bamboo went, happy faces arrived by foot or Porsche, commenting that they are glad to have the building again as part of their community.

At the end, the gardens are the interface between home and neighborhood and provoke public interest more then I ever expected, since they provide a viewable amenity and more so, an identity.


* I was told, the neighborhood association was founded in the mid 1950′s by a diverse selection of working professionals, who got the basic infrastructure built on Wonderland Park Avenue, even working out bank financing at the time. The area was refuge to middle class people who would have been marginalized because of race or ethnicity in the postwar Los Angeles housing market.

Contemporary photographs curtsey of the author.


Conquest Of Nature

by Claudia Dias on July 10, 2009

What started as the Conquest of Nature during the Enlightenment in Europe with draining swamps, taming rivers, building dams and remodeling large areas of landscapes, has turned now into machine dominated industries, like mining, driven by ever larger equipment into geologically-sized excavations, which best are understood from birds eye view and the disturbing ‘interiors’ of these perfectly terraced cuts. Most of Edward Burtynsky‘s photographed mines in Western Australia originate from the mid/late1960′s.

mine-sites1-wI guess not until the late 1960′s did color televisions start selling in large enough numbers to jump start the excessive quest for MORE of everything on a worldwide scale. Which turned into an ever increasing worldwide demand for minerals and energy, which had been up to that point contained within North America. What interests me about these pictures beyond their extreme coloration and the size of the machine-made negative landscapes, is their connecting tissue, which leaves similarly proportioned marks on other types of landscapes.

The extreme age of Western Australia’s landscape has meant that the soils are remarkably infertile, often laterized, and largely flat. Most of the mined raw materials are exported. 2/3 of Australia’s exported energy and minerals, and half of the exported iron ore are shipped to China.

mine-sites2-wThe opening of Australia’s largest open cut gold-mine located along Kalgoorlie Boulder, called ‘Fimiston Open Pit’, also knows as ‘Super Pit’, is still growing, eventually reaching 3.9 km (long) x 1.6 km (wide) with a depth of 500m. More than 1,550 tonnes of gold have been mined, which means around 15 million tonnes of rock, mostly waste is moved yearly.
‘Gold within the Golden Mile lode system is unusual in that it is present as telluride minerals within pyrite. In order to recover the gold, the ore must be crushed, passed through a gravity circuit to recover the free gold present in some of the higher-grade lodes, and then subjected to flotation to produce an auriferous pyrite concentrate. This is then roasted at a small smelter outside Kalgoorlie-Boulder to liberate the gold from the tellurides, with dore bars poured.’
Who acquired the land from whom and by what means? And where does all the excess material go? Are there new mountains being built out of the waste material?

mine-sites3-wIn the 1960′s the discovery of rich iron deposits at Mt Whaleback, the resource boom of Western Australia had taken off. A privately-owned railway was built to connect to Port Hedland and Dampier, moving record braking amounts of ore, trains reaching the length of 4.5 miles (7.3 km).
The dazzling colors of the Dampiers Salt Ponds and Lake Lefroy’s salt plateau against the white of the salt and ore rich background in Burtynsky’s photographs, remind me that also plenty of organic dyes and pigments like ochre and sienna are exported on a miniature scale throughout this region of Australia, and are still sacred viewed as sacred places to many Aboriginals.

BTW: The Super Pit is open for public viewing. Blasts occur regularly and can often be viewed from the lookout.

Australia, Mine Sites, 2007
Photographs of the Mine Sites courtesy of Edward Burtynsky and Charles Cowles Gallery.

Please refer to the Gallery for inquiries and prices.
Charles Cowles Gallery
537 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011, Tel +1 212 741 8999


‘ECHELON For Beginners’ On Ascension Island

by Claudia Dias on July 7, 2009

Since the rise of the mobile telephone we grew familiar with the sight of antennas, even in cities, those giant, nearly weightless structures, which only have to withstand weather and their own weight. A panoply of different antenna-structures cover most of Ascension Island’s surface, a tiny British colony in the middle of the South Atlantic. On a background of volcanic ashes a assortment from wire versions to delicate cones or spirals were installed by Echelon, and later documented by Simon Norfolk

sn_echelon1-wright: BBC World Service Relay Station at English Bay

Simon Norfolk explains how these most elegant and fragile looking structures aggressively tab into our daily lives:
ECHELON is a global, computerized electronic surveillance system. (…) The system works by indiscriminately intercepting truly enormous quantities of communications and using computers to identify and extract messages of interest from he mass of unwanted ones, then sorting them for more detailed analysis later. (…) The command center for this spider’s web is the National Security Agency (NSA) HQ at Fort Meade, Maryland. GCHQ at Chaltenham in the UK is the co-ordinateng center for Europe.’

BBC World Service Relay Station at English Bay

‘Data is collected by satellite interception, aerial arrays at strategic places and the direct tapping on underground and submarine cables . Computer manufacturers have ’back-doors‘ into the system software to allow the NSA to read everything on your computer. (…) One of the few places ECHELON can be seen or pictures is Ascension Island. In places, hills of ash have been leveled at the tops to allow the positioning of radomes and tracking devices.’

‘Warfare is becoming increasingly intangible. It is a paradox that whilst ‘rolling news’ and ‘embedded journalists,’ saturate us with the show-biz of war, when the really interesting developments: submarine warfare, space weapons, electronic warfare and electronic eavesdropping are essentially invisible.’

right: Electronic eavesdropping equipment at One Boat, owned by a partner of GCHQ spy services

Quotes by Simon Norfolk

Ascension Island: the Panopticon (ECHELON for beginners)
Photographs courtesy of the artist.

Please refer to the artist for inquiries.


Gone West

by Ross von Burg on June 19, 2009

So many New York City parks resemble ritualistic throwbacks to the imagined halcyon days of 19th century landscape architecture right down to the O. Henry inspired ironwork,  lamps and benches.  There are two recent notable exceptions, both created by the combination of Public / Private Conservancies. The Linear  Hudson River Park, conceived and created over two decades and the partially completed, somewhat overdesigned and recently opened Diller+Scofidio / James Corner Field Operations designed High-Line Park, which was brought to fruition in a much shorter period by the  Friends of the High Line.


The West Side Elevated rail line – now called the High Line-, built in the thirties to replace an earlier, dangerous, at grade line is on its way towards becoming one of New York City’s  best recognized ‘aedile amenities’.  It provides an 1.5 mile long aerial green corridor,  through the part of the West Side least served by public rail transit.  Nevertheless it is a good walk.   In some sections  the plantings resemble the former view of the long vegetated and untended rail tracks as seen from below.  The very modern and not at all nostalgic design of the park and its amenities is a welcome breath of fresh air on the West Side of lower Manhattan and nicely complements the neighboring Hudson River Park.


Essentially you walk on a linear green roof elevated above the city but below windows of many adjacent buildings.  The construction of the park has also created a corridor of boutique construction as many developers seek to capitalize on views of this unique amenity.  An amenity which alas many of them are too cheap to include on their own structures in New York.  For the first time many people will get a chance to walk on or view first hand with own eyes how nice a green roof type elevated park really is. 

Seeing is believing and might stimulate some more common sense practices, practices that are common place in Chicago and many European Cities:  Mayor Daley of Chicago at a recent Drum Major Institute breakfast detailed these to a New York audience at the Harvard Club.


The High-Line Park brings back an atavistic memory of  the old West Side Elevated highway, which stood abandoned for decades during the Westway-debate before being demolished. It was routinely used for cycling, jogging, joy riding and dog walking despite being condemned and off-limits.  It was made into an impormptu public space which was unlike any other in the city.  You felt above the fray. 


The High-Line Park has captured that kind of spirit but with inevitably more restrictions on what is and isn’t allowed. The elevation makes you  feel a little above and outside it all. Its a pleasant point of view not often experienced by New Yorkers, a kind of ‘Island in the Sky Feeling.’  It offers a common amenity made for both the occasional stroll and a viewing pleasure from a unique perspective.


The High Line is located on Manhattan’s West Side and runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues. 
Section 1 of the High Line, which opened to the public on June 9, runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street. 
High Line Information, Tel +1  212 500 6035 


Sea-Hyun Lee: “Between Red”

by Claudia Dias on June 16, 2009

The Korean art gallery “One and J.” got my full attention with only one single painting on display at VOLTA 5 (a curated art fair that coincides with Art 40 Basel), which this year is located under the amazing dome of the Markthalle in Basel. This approx. 8′ x 11′ large oil painting in 2 panels was the latest of the “Between Red” series by the Korean artist Sea-Hyun Lee (b.1967) and stood out in many ways:


It was painted only using crimson red on a white background, as a red-wash, and a process where the crimson is either thinned or actually removed layer by layer.

The traditional Asian flat landscape perspective depicts (utopian) mountain ranges in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) separating North and South Korea, memories of another generation, who witnessed the stripping of those landscapes for a 4 km wide empty corridor, following a more or less straight line close to the 38th parallel.

But looking closer, I discovered scenes of empty border patrol houses and alley ways probably those of Tae Sung Dong, the only village in the DMZ, this time painted in traditional Western perspective, which Sea-Hyun Lee observed himself:


“When I was serving my mandatory military service, I would be in a tactical area at night, close to the border.  I would wear night vision goggles, which coated everything in red. The forests and trees felt so fantastic and beautiful. It was unrealistic scenery filled with horror and fear, and with no possibility of entering.”

Not only is the red a reference to how the landscape appeared in his night-vision gear, but also references the degree of an artists affiliation to the communist party, where the percentage of red within a painting would translate directly into party loyalty. In this context the painting technique of reducing or removing the “redness” layer by layer creates a really interesting angle for me.


Paradoxically, the razed-strip of the DMZ, now filled with land mines, has turned into an unplanned and richly diverse nature reserve where endangered animals like the Red-crowned crane, the Siberian tiger, the Amur leopard and the Asiatic black bear found their new home.

Please refer to the Gallery for inquiries and prices.
One and J. Gallery

130-1 Kahoi-Dong, Jong Ro-Gu, Seoul 110-260 Korea, Tel. +82 2 745 1644
Many thanks to Won Jae Park and Patrick Lee


Jörg Ebers: Stairscapes in Berlin 2005-2009

by Claudia Dias on June 8, 2009

What’s new about staircases? Nothing. Except enjoying them as part of urban life, which is somewhat rare.


Berlin architect Jörg Ebers specializes in puzzle-like small townhouses; in Berlin Mitte he erected one on a lot so tiny it wasn’t zoned for this type of construction. He had to convince the buildings department to use a new building typology: a special code created for suburban two-apartment houses that freed him from implementing a second fire-escape staircase so that enough living-area would remain to make the site viable.  
The staircases, essential for his built landscapes, connect sequences of interlocking spaces of different heights and privacy, and are certainly memorable. I experienced each of the staircases more as sculptures, either I was walking through one or was admiring them as such from the outside. Only then I realized that a staircase can actually have an own body.


Textures, colors and materials of the diagonal connectors are borrowed from the local 1950-60′s structures, a time of experimentation with the NEW, and Ebers applies these in a fresh way using linoleum, oiled or corrugated oak-wood, bright colors and “raw” texturized concrete to emphasize the concept of his Raumplan. In one case the stairs open into a new storage landscape…. and for sure the experiment is ongoing. 

We planned from the small into the large: the rooms are imagined as large furniture, the stack of furniture make the “Raumplan”. Quoted from Jörg Ebers

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